Friday, January 30, 2015

Going Beyond Text Features in the Primary Grades

We spend weeks teaching strategies that pertain to reading fiction in our primary classrooms. The informational unit offers a nice break from character analysis, making inferences, determining theme, etc. Text features take the place of traits as we focus our attention on navigating nonfiction. I am in the process of preparing myself to guide a group of first graders through nonfiction book clubs (I'm much more comfortable talking about characters and frankly, primary classrooms scare me). The teacher wants to take  a high achieving group  and teach them how to think beyond text features and identify what is really important- comprehending what is read. So I reread an old favorite, Reading with Meaning. Deb reminded me that we need to teach children how to use the features of nonfiction in purposeful ways by teaching them what the genre of informational text really is. She suggests giving students time to immerse themselves in nonfiction texts, allowing them time to explore before the formal teaching begins. Additional lessons that she noted are modeling the difference between fiction and nonfiction, how to make predictions about nonfiction content and how to locate specific information. My big take away from Ms. Miller is we need to remember to explicitly teach our little ones ways to navigate nonfiction, going above and beyond text features and main idea. We need to keep in mind that our intention is to lift the level of student work. Students need to be able to synthesize information and determine what is important and relevant. How will you get your primary students there?


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